There is increasing talk and interest in the low carb healthy fat (LCHF) way of eating. It is emerging in the media, CSIRO are starting to support the principles and evidence; many people take the skeptical route and consider it another “fad diet” whilst others go to the other extreme and consider it a cure for all. Then there are all the opinions in between, so today I wanted to talk about what LCHF actually is AND what LCHF actually isn’t.
LCHF is NOT
- It is not zero carbohydrate and limitless fat intake.
There is a reduced carbohydrate intake and proportional increase in healthy fat intake. It is very hard to pinpoint exactly what this amount is broadly as it will be different for each person. Due to the fact, we all have varying metabolic rates, hormonal responses, activity levels, hunger levels etc. For eg. a type 2 diabetic may reduce their daily carbohydrate intake to 20-50g or maybe a little higher to 60-70g. For those who are not so carbohydrate sensitive, you may be able to tolerate more than that, 120-150g per day.
- It does not cut out entire food groups.
Carbohydrates are in everything from vegetables, fruits, grains, cereal and starchy veggies. These foods have varying amounts of carbohydrates, some more than others and for general nutrition and health it is important to try to aim for foods across all groups. But the principle remains in reducing the total quantity of carbohydrate intake per day.
It is definitely NOT cutting out all carbohydrates
LCHF is an adjustment of total carbohydrate and total fat intake.
What is LCHF?
The LCHF way of eating is a wholefoods approach. We encourage lots of fresh quality ingredients, such as:
- Grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, free range eggs.
- Organic vegetables (where possible).
- Fruits (low in sugar, high in fibre).
- Nuts & seeds.
- Healthy and natural fats should be encouraged not feared.
- Organic unprocessed grains or legumes in moderation.
It is important to note that protein is maintained at a moderate level in a LCHF approach. It is encouraged to include 0.8-1.2g of protein per kg of bodyweight. If your physical activity levels are higher than normal you can certainly increase to 1.5g of protein per bodyweight. But the LCHF approach is definitely NOT a high protein diet.
There is a skewed perception that LCHF is about loads of bacon and eggs, butter, cream. And yes you can eat these foods within the LCHF way of eating but it is certainly not overloading or eating these foods in excess. There is an embracement of whole natural foods and healthy fats such as meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, healthy oils, avocado and dairy products.
How does it work? A lot will argue that it works by limiting calorie intake through calorie restriction, however this is simple untrue. The primary effect of LCHF is…the reduced amount of carbohydrate intake in each meal lowers the blood glucose load and the subsequent insulin release is reduced; this is hugely beneficial for your overall health and hormonal balance (I will be talking about Insulin and its role in weight loss later this month, stay tuned…)
LCHF is definitely NOT a low-calorie diet. LCHF works through hormone adjustment.
How is it applied? The benefits of LCHF way of eating has been very widely researched and these principles have in fact been practiced from a long time – LCHF is certainly not a “new thing.” Benefits extend across many different conditions, such as;
- Type 2 diabetes (insulin reduction
- Disordered lipid profiles
- Weight loss (doesn’t spike hunger and cravings, increases satiety after meals for longer periods, better compliance to healthy eating into the long term, sustainable weight loss results and maintenance)
- Mood disorders
Interestingly, when people latch onto something that they find works for them, many then might think that everyone needs to be on a LCHF diet (and I say ‘diet’ in the respect of daily intake of food). We do need to remember that some people will benefit greatly from this way of eating, whereas others will benefit greatly from a diverse and balanced way of eating.
Where it is indicated, people do need to consider LCHF way of eating as a useful approach to improving/managing health conditions and weight loss – most recently the CSIRO has stated LCHF is the first treatment approach to the management of type 2 diabetes.
Summary – LCHF is an adjustment to carbohydrate intake and total healthy fat intake. The LCHF way of eating is only one approach to health, not the only approach. Where LCHF is indicated, it is extremely beneficial but where it is not, it shouldn’t be pushed. Weight loss happens via the reduction of blood sugar and insulin levels, not via calorie restriction.
Low Carbohydrate, Healthy Fat is a wholefood approach, encouraging food from across all food groups, which improves mood, satiety and energy levels.
Still have more questions of LCHF way of eating, i would love to hear from you in the comments section below or email [email protected]
Nutrition Coach at Collective Fitness